by 2002. HIV had become much talked about in the over 50-set, as set for in this AP story  

rm_cysensual 72M/60F
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11/21/2005 9:14 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

by 2002. HIV had become much talked about in the over 50-set, as set for in this AP story

Newly divorced after 23 years of marriage, Jane P. Fowler was hesitant to re-enter the dating scene. When the then 50-year-old woman finally began seeing someone, it was a man she had known for years - a man she now believes infected her with the AIDS virus.

"I had no idea what was out there," said the Kansas City, Mo., woman. "I was an older woman. I did not have to worry about becoming pregnant."

Fowler, now 67, is part of the new face of HIV - which increasingly is heterosexual, older and grayer.

"Women after menopause are not going to use condoms because they're not afraid of getting pregnant anymore. Viagra is spreading like chewing gum. Usually, medical providers don't even ask about their sexual life," said Monica Dea, a coordinator with the Center for AIDS Prevention and Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. "These people are continually getting infected."

While there is no nationwide system that tracks HIV infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the proportion of Americans over 50 with AIDS has risen steadily from 10 percent in the early 1990s to 13.4 percent in 1999, the most recent figures available.

It has concerned government officials enough that they are now collecting data to assess the situation.

"It is an area we want to be concerned about," said Robert Janssen, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "Potentially there is a risk of there being increases in new infections in older people."

Fowler and others complain that the government's prevention efforts rarely target older Americans. Posters and campaigns do not usually feature an older face, and doctors sometimes discourage the elderly when they question whether they should be tested, advocates say.

"One of our biggest problems is getting clinicians to take sexual histories of older people," Fowler said. "This is something we have to change. People my age, they'll ask me what an 'STD' (sexually transmitted disease) is. They think 'VD.' We were the venereal disease generation. We have to get everybody thinking about that."

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